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Is Glastonbury Sustainable?

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Case study
Topic: Atmospheric pollution

Torrential rains caused the muddiest obstacle course ever at the Glastonbury festival this year, so there were plenty of injuries to be had! How do the organisers cope with the environmental impact of around 180,000 music lovers living in a field in Somerset for a weekend? This activity gets students to defend the festival by suggesting how it could be made more sustainable.

11-14 How Science Works:
How science works
Communication skills:
• 3c: present information, develop an argument and draw a conclusion, using scientific, technical and mathematical language, conventions and symbols and ICT tools.

Published: 25th June 2007
Reviews & Comments: 11

Learning objectives

To argue for one way of making festivals like Glastonbury more environmentally sustainable.

Try the activity

You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

Environment, Earth and universe
• 8a: the effects of human activity on the environment can be assessed using living and non-living indicators

Please see downloadable teachers notes for details of individual GCSE specifications.

Running the activity

Display page 1, and ask the students who they agree with. Are festivals like Glastonbury purely about having fun, taking in the atmosphere and not caring about anything other than having a great time? Or should we worry about their impact on the environment?

Outline the task at the bottom page 1. Emphasise the need to include science information in answering the first point. Tell them that much of the information needed to address the third bullet point is on one of pages 2, 3 or 4. Again, it is vital to include science information and to give reasons for their choices. If you wish, tell students to do further research to support their scientific arguments.

Give each pair or group a copy of page 2 or 3 or 4, depending on their choice of environmental issue (rubbish; pollution from electricity generation; human waste). Allow students time to prepare a 2-minute presentation to the local council.

Run the council meeting. You might like to take on the role of council leader and get each group to present their defence of the festival in turn. Encourage peer-review of the presentations by asking students to judge each presentation on the quality of its scientific explanation and the likely effectiveness of the suggested solution.

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?


Jun 28th, 2011

5 Star

excellent resources and very topical..

Reviewer: Layla Marshall


Nov 5th, 2009

5 Star

Used this activity with a bottom set year ten class, lots of EAL students and they loved it. Especially good as it was the time of year when glastonbury was on. made them all pretend tickets to start the lesson off and this got them in the mood

Reviewer: louise shipman


May 7th, 2009

4 Star

Useful resources fits in well with more creative thinking curriculum

Reviewer: Emma Patterson

C3 - Food matters

Nov 3rd, 2008

5 Star

Led to students linking idea of sustainability to food waste and farming methods. Kept away from electricity as teaching C3. Another great resource with so much scope.

Reviewer: Louise Lissaman

C3 - Food matters

Nov 3rd, 2008

5 Star

Led to students linking idea of sustainability to food waste and farming methods. Kept away from electricity as teaching C3. Another great resource with so much scope.

Reviewer: Louise Lissaman

Is glastonbury sustainable?

Jul 11th, 2008

3 Star

I used this activity with 3 different mixed ability year 9 groups on an activity day. They enjoyed the initial discussion about glastonbury and the impact on the environment but then found the end of the activity a bit boring. If i did the activity again i would use the first part of the activity but then change the second half.

Reviewer: naomi weysom


Jul 4th, 2008

3 Star

I tried this with a year 9 group who were very interested in the topic. To focus the group I found that making it into a debate worked really well - half the class were the councillors who wanted to close down the festival and the others were supporters of the festival. They can up with some good solutions!

Reviewer: Susan Roxburgh

Is Glastonbury Sustainable? review

Jun 7th, 2008

4 Star

My year 10 mid to high ability romped through this, It takes the emphasis from the teacher and got the class thinking for themselves.

Reviewer: lucy baddeley

Population v. pollution

Dec 12th, 2007

5 Star

Yr10 top set...
Really got them thinking about what a large group of people in such a small area need - some great debates.
However I modified the sheets, I had the intro page on one side and then on the other side of the handout I pasted the information from all the other sheets. I missed out the 'suggestions' on the page with the renewable energy resources as I did not think that they were sensible.

Reviewer: Kimberley Carter

Is Glastonbury Sustainable? review

Nov 1st, 2007

4 Star

i did this with my y10 pure scientists as an introduction to making a good argument.

they were all really engaged and produced some high quality arguments for glastonbury going ahead.

next time they wrote an argument they linked it back and remembered the thought process they went through.

Reviewer: sarah connon

Is Glastonbury Sustainable? review

Aug 30th, 2007

4 Star

I used this activity with my year 10 group just after Glastonbury,at the end of a long term its was a great activity to catch their imagination and get them thinking about the practical application of science.
some heated discussions were had and radical ideas for dealing with the problems.
Great activity but watch the clock as they all want to have their say.

Reviewer: sandra martin